ObamaCare's Continued Chaos
To no thinking person's surprise, the Obama administration admitted this week that another element of ObamaCare is going to cost more than originally expected. This isn't really news so much as it is yet another confirmation that the president's takeover of health care will be an absolute disaster.
The latest program to exceed expectations is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which provides health insurance for people who can't obtain coverage through private carriers. The PCIP was meant to be an interim program phasing out in 2014, at which point all insurers will be required to accept all comers who want coverage. In November 2010, the federal government estimated an annual cost of $13,000 per enrollee. Since the program's launch last year, some 50,000 people have signed up, and now the expected cost is around $29,000 per enrollee.
While we're on the subject, the outrageous contraception mandate remains yet another tarnished gem in the ObamaCare crown. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this week that the administration has begun "outreach" to officials in the Catholic Church, insurers and groups that run self-insured insurance plans. However, Sebelius' "outreach" isn't in search of a compromise with faith-based groups whose rights are being trampled for the sake of free contraception. The administration hasn't backed down from its non-compromise offer that the cost for free contraception be shifted from faith-based employers to private insurance companies. The mandate is here to stay, and faith-based employers have 18 months to comply.
One of the free contraception mandate's more vocal supporters testified this week before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee about how tough life can be without free birth control. The hearing was nothing more than a showpiece for the issue with a single witness, Sandra Fluke (is there a pun here?), a Georgetown law student and self-professed "reproductive rights activist." Fluke made the absurd claim that free contraception is a necessity at her school, which currently doesn't provide it. "Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggled financially as a result of this policy," she complained. Of course, the HHS mandate has nothing to do with university students, but that's beside her point.
Fluke asserted that contraception could cost $3,000 through three years of law school. That's a lot of money to spend on protected sex over that time frame. In fact, humorist Frank J. Fleming quipped, "Anyone buying that much contraception should probably be writing it off on her taxes as a business expense." Fluke's assertion that she and other women have an absolute right to contraception at someone else's expense is disturbing. There is no right to sex free of consequences. Fluke also implies that the women of Georgetown law have no control over their urges or actions, all the while thinking she's standing up for women's rights. When did "get your laws off my body" become "you have to pay for the stuff that goes into my body"?
The most important question, of course, is just where within the Constitution is the government granted the power to mandate this sort of thing for private or religious organizations? This was asked of Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) by one of her constituents at a recent town hall. She replied, "Well, basically, we're not looking to the Constitution on that aspect of it." We suppose Hochul's candor is refreshing, but it didn't sit well with the crowd -- nor should it. Hochul attempted to defend ObamaCare by stating that Congress determined that citizens are entitled to health care. "So why don't we provide free access to Band-Aids and cancer screenings?" the constituent followed up. "Aren't those more important to health care than contraception?" Hochul could only say, "Well, clearly more work needs to be done." Nice understatement.
In the Senate, an amendment to impose a religious-conscience exemption to ObamaCare was rejected Thursday. Proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was attached to an upcoming transportation bill. Democrats were nearly united in opposition, and retiring Maine "Republican" Olympia Snowe was the only GOP member to oppose it. Obama, adamantly pushing "free" contraception, would have been forced to veto the whole transportation bill in order to prevent the conscience exemption from again being the law. His other option would have been to let the amendment pass and hope it takes some of the heat off as the presidential election moves forward.
The one bit of good news is that a House committee voted to throw out the "death panel" provision of ObamaCare. The Independent Payment Advisory Board was supposed to help with cost control, but has been accurately tagged as a "death panel" because of its rationing of care. All things considered, however, a new administration and a more Liberty-friendly Congress must be installed in January to repeal this monstrosity.